Is Simon Gagne in or out for the Tampa Bay Lightning? Reasons to believe both ways
So, let's see, Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Simon Gagne was skating with Mattias Ritola (who is playing tonight against the Rangers) and Dana Tyrell (who also is playing), yet coach Guy Boucher said Gagne likely will not play. Gagne was getting treatment for his strained neck and wasn't immediately available to talk, so we have no new information there.
All we have is this from Boucher:
"He's getting close, but we'll see. He needs a bit more practice time with the team, but we'll see. I don't want to rule him out, but eh reality is he had only one practice with the team with the morning skate."
So, it's a timing thing?
"There's timing involved here," Boucher said. "If he would have had three or four practices with the team, he'd be a lot closer. He's closer than he was before."
And here's the kicker:
"You never know," Boucher said. "Maybe on Friday (at Washington) will be more realistic. Maybe he's going to have a great nap this afternoon."
If I was betting, I'd bet Gagne, who has missed 15 games, plays. Tough to think he wouldn't after skating this morning with two guys who are definitely in the game. But, you never know, I guess. We'll have to wait and see.
Other stuff from the morning skate: Good to see Ruslan Fedotenko, who scored both goals in the Lightning's 2-1 victory over the Flames in Game 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup final, having so much success with the Rangers. It was fun to ask him, too, how his relationship with coach John Tortorella is going. If you recall, the two didn't always see eye-to-eye when they were with Tampa Bay, but it sounds like smooth sailing so far. "No problems so far," Fedotenko said laughing. "I have no complaints. So far, I can't regret. I've been playing pretty good and fitting in with the group and contributing to the team, so I'm pretty happy right now." ... Feds said he still has his St. Petersburg home near Coffee Pot Bayou, though he has been trying to sell it for two years. Sounded, though, as if he wants to keep it and eventually use it as a home base. ... Some praise for right wing Teddy Purcell, who seems to have stepped up his game the past little while with two goals and two assists his past three games. "I guess he kind of challenged me a little bit," Purcell said of Boucher. "I'm moving my feet. Move your feet, get to an area and try not to survey so much. Keep my feet moving and make a play. ... Boucher on dealing with Rangers super-pest Sean Avery: "I'm a big believer in total focus. If people get us off our game, we're not strong enough mentally. Whoever we play and whoever we meet, whether it's the biggest pest or one of the subtle ones, we have control of that." ... Also, another good quote from Boucher on Steven Stamkos: "The consistency on his part comes from the passion for the game. He plays for the right reasons. He loves playing the game just to play the game. If you gave him two cents, he would play the same game." ... Have you noticed how tough Tampa Bay's minor-league call-ups have had it this season? Defenseman Mathieu Roy is minus-2 in three games and averaging just 5:37 of ice time. Left wing Johan Harju's ice time went down in three of the four games he played before he was demoted. Wing Marc-Antoine Pouliot was minus-3 in one game and was demoted. Center James Wright was minus-2 in 4:38 of ice time against the Flyers and was demoted. And center Blair Jones has played six games over two call-ups but was held out of the third period Monday against the Bruins. Boucher puts some blame on the pace of the NHL game and players getting used to the subtle differences in the systems played in AHL Norfolk and Tampa Bay. But Jones said, "The biggest thing is making sure you know where to go (on the ice). The coaching staff tries to help out as much as they can but it's still a challenge to make sure you're in the right spot." ... Captain Vinny Lecavalier showed off the three-inch scar on his right hand left over from surgery to repair the big knuckle on his right index finger. Lecavalier had a plate and two screws installed to help the healing and should be out another three weeks. His hand is still very swollen and can't bend the end of his right index finger down past 90 degrees. "It'll be a nice scar," he said. ... And, finally, this wasn't from the morning skate, but in case you missed Wayne Gretzky's take on Stamkos' quest for 50 goals in 50 games, the Great One told ESPN.com: "The only way you an get 50 goals in 50 games is that you have real good linemates. It seems he's got a nice fit with the guys he's playing with right now. They're playing off each other and playing real unselfishly. (Marty) St. Louis seems to be playing as god as he's ever played, and that takes some pressure off the a. Over 82 games, you're going to have some tough nights, and you need your linemates to help you out."